How to Propagate Christmas Cactus: Tips & Tricks
From creating fond gifts to bursting into pink blooms full of love, the Christmas cactus is a plant you want to be close by. In fact, so close that most homeowners want it to be in their living rooms.
But there’s a catch! The Christmas cactus is not your everyday plant; it requires tender care from when it propagates until it roots. Continue reading to find out more on how you can propagate the plant.
The 3 Methods to Propagate Christmas Cactus?
You can propagate Christmas cactus using stem or branch cuttings. Here is how to do so.
1. Using Stem Cuttings
Propagating Christmas cacti using stem cuttings is an easy DIY task. You only need to get cuttings from healthy plants and follow the following steps.
1. Pick the right time of year
Take your cuttings in late spring to increase your chances of success. During this period, the cactus is out of its dormant winter period and ready for new growth. Naturally, rooting hormones are at their peak, and cuttings will develop very fast.
2. Find a healthy stem to get cuttings
Select a healthy, insect-free parent plant and choose a cutting with two and five stem segments.
3. Cut a few healthy branch segments
Collect several healthy stem cuttings to improve the survival odds and pinch off the flattened leaf sections with a pair of scissors, a small knife, or using your hand.
4. Let the cuttings dry overnight
Place the cuttings in a cool, dry place for one or two days to heal the injured area. This healing period forms a protective layer that will prevent rotting.
2. Using a Rooting Medium
1. Fill a small pot with a potting mixture
Fill a small pot with perlite, coarse sand, or a 1:1 combination of perlite and sand. The pot should have small drainage holes.
2. Run water through the rooting medium
Place the pot in the sink and turn on the tap. Only turn off the tap when the medium is damp and drainage holes are leaking out excess water.
3. Insert your cutting into the pot
Hold your cutting upright and press it about half an inch deep into the sand. Lightly press the sand around the stem to keep it upright.
4. Water the potting mixture again and let it drain
Remoisten the soil until excess water flows out.
5. Place the pot in a warm, well-lit spot free from direct sunlight
Placing the cutting in a warm room between 60 and 70 degrees kickstarts the important rooting process. The plant will, however, thrive well under indirect sunlight.
6. Water the potting frequently
Water the cuttings only when the mix is completely dry. How dry are we talking about? Drive a 3-inch stick into the sand. If a third of it is dry, water the plant. But note that overwatering will push out essential aeration packets and initiate rotting.
7. Repot the cutting after 6 weeks.
Repotting is transferring a plant to a larger container with more soil and space for roots to develop well. Repotting cactus from the sand to a nutrient reservoir such as soil will accelerate growth.
3. Growing roots in water
1. Fill a jar halfway with stones and water
Fill a third of the pot with medium-sized rocks and water until the top stones are covered.
2. Place the slice in the jar, submerging only the bottom
Holding the cutting upright, place it in the pot until only the bottom stem section is submerged. The dampness from the water encourages the cutting to root out. Rocks hold the plant in place from sinking.
3. Put the jar where it will get indirect sunlight
Bright light helps the cuttings grow roots and ultimately blossom. Keeping the plant away from direct sunshine prevents the leaves from wilting out.
4. Refill the water as needed
Monitor the water level and refill the jar to its original level if necessary. Failure to observe this will kill the plant.
5. Plant the cutting
Put the plant into a container filled with a soil-manure mixture once the roots are two times longer than the stem. Make a tiny hole in the middle of the soil and gently press the roots down into it. Cover the roots with soil and carefully pack them down to keep the cutting upright.
Tips to Take Care of Christmas Cactus
There are several ways you can use to keep the Christmas cactus healthy. From repotting and watering to optimum lighting, here are some tips.
Use Fertile Soil in a Pot with Drainage Holes
Christmas cactus love soil that is enriched with manure and nutrients and is well drained. Add coffee dry coffee husks. Coffee husks are rich in potassium and nitrogen, improve aeration, and have excellent water-holding properties.
Water Every 2–3 Weeks
Check the potting soil with your finger, and only water your plant when the top one-third of the soil feels dry to the touch. Water your Christmas cactus until water flows through drainage holes.
Feed the Cactus Every 2 Weeks
You will not have nutrition deficiency issues when using fertile soil. But, feed your cacti every 2 weeks with a 20:20:20 formula from spring through early fall. Remember to feed the cactus monthly in the fall and winter as it encourages your cactus to bloom.
Alternatively, supplement the plant with nutrients by changing a portion of the soil with a fresh manure-soil mixture. Simply scoop out some soil in the pot and replace it with fresh soil.
Keep Your Cacti on Bright Spots with Indirect Light
Being a plant that has adapted well to the shaded, humid forests of Brazil, Christmas cacti thrive well when protected from direct sunlight. A bright bathroom or kitchen is an excellent place to put them. You can also place the plants on an unheated porch or a cool spot in your garden.
Protect Your Cacti from Intense Indoor Lighting
For the first 6 weeks, provide your plants with at least 14 hours of darkness and 8 to 10 hours of light. In case of strong indoor lighting, you may need to cover your Christmas cactus with a dark cotton towel for some time or move it to a spot with plenty of natural light.
Prune Plants in Late Spring
Late spring pruning encourages branching and more flowers. Cut a few pieces from each stem and place them in mildly damp potting soil. They’ll root after a few weeks providing you with extra plants for Christmas presents.
That is how you will ensure the plant lives by its name.
Christmas cactus is an attractive plant that you can capitalize on its beauty through propagation. Stem or branch propagation is successful when done in spring using soil or water as a rooting medium. Both methods are good at triggering the development of roots. As the plant grows, keep it healthy by repotting, using manure, and pruning. Watering is also equally important.
Featured Image Credit: lueleng, Pixabay